This promising new writer might borrow from the masters, but he’s primed for loyal fans of his own.

Ghosts of Royston - A Thriller

Dove’s impressive debut is a well-paced thriller with supernatural touches that follows a family in the aftermath of a tragic car accident.

Dove uses a somewhat unconventional format, following two main characters in alternating chapters, designating the intertwining narratives “The Book of Ruthie” and “The Book of Cole.” Ruthie is actually Sophie Danner, a teenage girl kidnapped from the scene of the car accident and taken hostage by a family in a backwater shack. Gabriel, the main heavy, brings Sophie home and tells his mentally disturbed mother, Cora, that Sophie is her daughter Ruthie, believed to have drowned years ago when she was 4. Cole is Sophie’s father, and his first-person chapters cover his search for Sophie and his wife, Natalie, as he’s guided by a force he can’t explain. The characters are vivid, their dialogue fit perfectly to them, each with a unique voice. Sophie is determined, Gabriel terrifying, and Cole’s struggle to retain his sanity is palpable. In some of the early moments, Cora echoes Annie Wilkes, the psychotic nurse from Stephen King’s Misery, a bit too closely, but Dove separates the stories enough that his ultimately feels more like an homage than theft. Armed with a solid premise, Dove knows how to bring it to life. There’s a minor misstep, though, in adding another section as well as another point of view in the final third of the book as the action rises to its peak. Other than that, Dove does a fantastic job of fitting together Sophie’s third-person narrative and Cole’s first-person narrative, heightening the suspense as Sophie deals with the menace of Gabriel and the unhinged Cora, while Cole’s “flashbacks” lead him to solve the mystery of his accident and the disappearance of his family from the scene. Fortunately, Dove uses the possibility of a supernatural connection sparingly enough to keep the story rooted in reality, and he shades the action with occasional humor to color the well-built personalities.

This promising new writer might borrow from the masters, but he’s primed for loyal fans of his own.

Pub Date: April 4, 2013

ISBN: 978-1482043969

Page Count: 266

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2013

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Fans of smart horror will sink their teeth into this one.

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THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB'S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES

Things are about to get bloody for a group of Charleston housewives.

In 1988, the scariest thing in former nurse Patricia Campbell’s life is showing up to book club, since she hasn’t read the book. It’s hard to get any reading done between raising two kids, Blue and Korey, picking up after her husband, Carter, a psychiatrist, and taking care of her live-in mother-in-law, Miss Mary, who seems to have dementia. It doesn’t help that the books chosen by the Literary Guild of Mt. Pleasant are just plain boring. But when fellow book-club member Kitty gives Patricia a gloriously trashy true-crime novel, Patricia is instantly hooked, and soon she’s attending a very different kind of book club with Kitty and her friends Grace, Slick, and Maryellen. She has a full plate at home, but Patricia values her new friendships and still longs for a bit of excitement. When James Harris moves in down the street, the women are intrigued. Who is this handsome night owl, and why does Miss Mary insist that she knows him? A series of horrific events stretches Patricia’s nerves and her Southern civility to the breaking point. (A skin-crawling scene involving a horde of rats is a standout.) She just knows James is up to no good, but getting anyone to believe her is a Sisyphean feat. After all, she’s just a housewife. Hendrix juxtaposes the hypnotic mundanity of suburbia (which has a few dark underpinnings of its own) against an insidious evil that has taken root in Patricia’s insular neighborhood. It’s gratifying to see her grow from someone who apologizes for apologizing to a fiercely brave woman determined to do the right thing—hopefully with the help of her friends. Hendrix (We Sold Our Souls, 2018, etc.) cleverly sprinkles in nods to well-established vampire lore, and the fact that he’s a master at conjuring heady 1990s nostalgia is just the icing on what is his best book yet.

Fans of smart horror will sink their teeth into this one.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68369-143-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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